A Walk Behind Enemy Lines

Today was the first day of my few days off. The weather was not too shabby despite the low lying sea-mist enveloping the landscape. The sea-mist was dense enough to prevent the sun permeating the earth. I decided to start the day by taking the Dart to Howth.

On reaching Howth, I took a walk down the West Pier. Half way down, I realised I made a huge mistake. My workplace. What had I done? I had walked into a stronghold of our mortal enemies, the seagulls. The seagulls.

Last Friday, one of my colleagues, Annmarie, was walking down the steps to our office when she was brutally attacked by a dive bombing seagull. A large blob of bird-shit had added to the pattern of her Summer dress. A few days ago, another colleague, Frank, was cycling when he was side-swiped by another seagull. A large splat of seagull shit had carefully been aimed at the centre of his back of his good shirt, a place where it was difficult to see never mind clean.

They say pigs can’t fly. That may be the case, but elephantine gulls can. Curse those seagulls. Perhaps Ned O’Sullivan was right all along. Those ‘raucous seagulls’ had ‘lost the run of themselves.’

Despite this, I continued behind enemy lines. I was determined to defy The Trashmen and insist that bird was not the word. I decided to have a cup of coffee in Deep. If I was going to go down, I was going to do it in style, like Benjamin Guggenheim, except not in evening-wear, but wearing jeans, a t-shirt and a pair of runners. Thankfully, I also wore clean underwear when I left this morning just in case my body was found somewhere a long the pier splattered with seagull incontinence. Thinking about it now, my underpants might not have been clean after the brutal aviarian assault.

I was having my coffee in Deep, when a man behind me succumbed to inquisitive starlings begging for food. I felt like the famous WW1 flying ace zooming through the sky in his Sopwith Camel.  The starlings must have been the seagulls trusty lieutenants. Swarms of… Murmurations of starlings proceeded to divebomb the trenches. I was informed by the waitress that one of the workers would not go out as she feared birds. I nodded understandingly. I was going to fight their corner whilst deep in the trenches. A local behind me and a group of French tourists occupied the other tables. The French, who could have been our allies, were lured by the caterwauling starlings and started to feed them their scones. Stuck in the middle of the gunfire, I bravely shooed the starlings away. I was Odysseus tied to the mast but my fellow seamen succumbed to starling-chant and drowned. I would like to say they fought bravely, but I don’t think they fought at all. I sat alone having my coffee and scone in defiance.  I didn’t share any. And I finished my coffee intact.

After, I put my jacket back on noticed I was injured on my shoulder. I bravely walked on, but feared for the remaining uninjured two colleagues, Áine and John.


A Walk From Raheny to Howth

12 o’clock in the afternoon and a plan is afoot. Ireland was promised good weather so I was going to make use of it; go for a walk from Raheny to Howth and back and try to do it in a good time.

As I am quite competitive, I gave myself a target of two hours but was also to leave at twelve. (It didn’t matter that I hadn’t attempted this walk before, but the target was there to beat). As usual, good plans do not always come to fruition as I forgot to take into account I needed to prepare for my walk – dress in the requisite gear, put on a bit of sun cream and look silly stretching before I departed.

12:30pm came and I was off, happy that the sun was shining in the sky and a warm complimentary sea breeze was coming up the road and that blackbirds were singing in the trees. I head towards the coast road – the path along the Bull Island with the sun on my back and the sea on my right. Flecks of the sun shine on the sea below, like little camera flashes.

Along the coast road, it was nice though surprising how few people appeared to be out walking. Several bikes dodged around me, I walked past the odd pedestrian, the odd dog, said hello to an old school friend, but most were driving in the good weather. Traffic always haemorrhages on the coast road on sunny days as they head towards Howth. I walk on check the watch and check my pace. At 1pm, I am at Kilbarrack Cemetery, so I quicken.

1:30pm I reached Sutton Cross. Here, the cars disperse and the plan had changed slightly. The fork on the right alongside Marine Hotel goes towards St. Fintan’s Cemetery where my dead grandparents lie. I felt compelled to visit.

In a car, the drive from Sutton Cross to the cemetery is minimal, but as I am walking and going up a hill, I question whether this is the correct road but plough on nonetheless. Paths disappear and I am forced to cross the road twice, and doubts arise and the time is 1:40pm.

Graves appear on my right and into the cemetery I go. The time no longer matters. I say a quick prayer for my relatives and end it wishing them a Happy Easter. In the trees the birds rejoice. I walk back home the same way I came content with my day’s work.